December 16, 1997
One early fall morning in 1934, C.M. (Andy) Anderson was a lad trudging to school along a country road southeast of Marland when he spied an expensive-looking watch lying in a ditch. It was an exciting find for the youngster. Today, 63 years later, he is feeling some pangs of remorse because of that incident. To remedy that, Andy, now a resident of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, would like to put the watch in the hands of someone from the family of the original owner. This is a story for the Christmas season so let's listen to Andy as he tells about it. Here's his first-person account:
"The place of the find was about a half mile from my home. A better description of the location would be about seven miles east and two miles south of Marland. The watch was in the roadside ditch where, it appeared, a couple of fellows could drive no further and stopped their car. They apparently tumbled out, into the ditch, where they spent most of the night sleeping off a drink, and maybe drinking a little more. The only thing I remember being in the ditch, besides the watch, was a couple of empty whiskey flasks and telltale signs of two fellows spending several hours in the ditch.
"From our house, a distance of a bit over one-quarter mile from where I found the watch, my parents and I noticed the parked car the evening before and we wondered what was going on. We decided the two men were inebriated and let it go at that. Being a school boy, I had to investigate as I walked to school the next morning.
"When I found the watch, I recognized it as a very good one and quite expensive for 1934, in the depths of the Great Depression and dust bowl days. I thought that if a couple of fellows could afford the expense of liquor and such things, they could afford to replace this lost watch. I talked it over with my parents and they said that since I did not steal the watch, only found it, I could keep it. But nowadays I do feel like I kind of 'stole' it.
"The thing didn't bother my conscience until the last year or so, and now I feel I should have tried to locate the owner so I could have returned it to him. As we go through life, our viewpoints and priorities change to a certain extent. I do have reason to believe the owner of the watch was a resident of Perry and that he may have been a fireman there. That person may now be deceased, but some descendent or relative or friend may still be living and may read this. If so, I wish he or she would contact me.
"Anyone who feels he or she has reason to claim this watch may send me their name and phone number and I will call them. If they can give a reasonable description of the watch, I will send it to them by insured mail. The watch is now in a safe deposit box and it has been there for several years. I have been a businessman most of my life, and I have never lied to or cheated any person, so now I feel I can, in the near future, meet my Maker with a clear conscience relating to my treatment of others during my 77 years. My address is: P.O. Box 1018, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147-1018."
Mr. Anderson's letter is especially good for this time of year, when most people turn their thoughts to atonement and grace. Perhaps you can help him. If so, drop him a line.